Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/9/2016 (1666 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I will never forget 9/11. I had raced to the University of Winnipeg for an 8:30 a.m. class, not listening to the radio en route, and had gone straight from class into a meeting.
I emerged to watch the second tower fall, just in time for my first lecture in a course on science and society.
It was more group therapy than lecture, as we reflected on the fact our world had just changed — and not for the better.
Over the next eight months, we talked about many things, including the problems of elites, colonialism, power and control, democracy and what lay ahead for our generation on a planet struggling to find a route to a sustainable future.
It would have been nice to check back with that class at five years, at 10 years, and today, to see how their lives had been shaped by the events of 9/11, even though we watched the towers fall from afar, safe and secure in Winnipeg.
Since that time, we have seen a global surge of anger on many fronts relating to ecological and social injustice.
Perhaps we have reached some collective tipping point, where the collectivity of the Internet has allowed people to gain strength and solidarity by standing together around the world, but there are rough waters ahead.
Whether it was Arab Spring, the rise of anti-establishment terrorist groups such as the Islamic State or al-Qaida, the spread of popular protests in every country where people face exploitation over land, mining, energy, food or water, it is no longer business as usual for anyone, anywhere.
The Occupy movement might have been dismissed for littering in public parks, but the cry of "We are the 99 per cent" resonated across the world. In the same way, Idle No More gave a focus and a voice to the concerns of indigenous peoples in Canada.
The calls for "justice" in so many areas of our lives are not going to diminish. Issues that elites (the "one per cent") used to dismiss are not going away, but are instead gathering public attention and support.
We live in a peaceful society, governed by the rule of law for the benefit of all the citizens of Canada. We are peaceful — not because someone forced us, but because we have chosen to be peaceful.
But we remain peaceful as long as we believe government is by the people, for the people — as long as the laws are enforced fairly, for the good of all, and not instead for some political or economic elite. As long as our hope for the future is well-managed by the leaders of our society, whom we are able to trust, we don’t have to take matters into our own hands.
So, I have chosen to believe the review on the cosmetic pesticide ban is just that — a review and not a brazen attempt to prefer private wealth over public health. I have also chosen to believe the Pallister government cancelled the rail-relocation study to avoid playing politics with the issue, not to avoid dealing with the issues of public safety and a vision for a better future for Winnipeggers. I have also chosen to believe pipeline-review panels (here and in the U.S.) will reach the obvious decision to safeguard the environment and future generations and not be coerced by special interests.
You might think me naive. But 9/11 reminds me to consider what the world — what Canada — might look like, if we do not find a way forward that is based on peace, respect and justice for all.
Peter Denton teaches the history of technology and chairs the policy committee of the Green Action Centre.